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After the Main Street WIRE Troll Attack, Changes

David Stone
After the Main Street WIRE Troll Attack, Changes
CCO Public Domain / Klaus Hausmann on Pixabay

When we published an opinion piece about the Common Council's Aaron Hamburger trying to snare credit for solving the rat issue at PS/IS 217, we expected to get pushback from Hamburger and his Council colleagues. Opinion pieces always invite rebuttal. Debate is part of the fun of shaping and reshaping dynamic ideas. Imagine our surprise when we got attacked by Main Street WIRE trolls instead.

The irony is that the attackers, who single-mindedly crowbarred a satirical reference to the WIRE to leverage an avalanche of racist, bigoted ranting, never once spoke up for Hamburger or the Common Council.

Straining to protect the Main Street WIRE by using racial slurs and derogatory references to age and gender, the trolls used the familiar tactic of hiding behind pseudonyms while throwing poison darts at appointed enemies by name.

I first saw this kind of stuff when I served as a community moderator on a Hillary Clinton for President page on Facebook. Part of my volunteer work required weeding out the trolls who, working for Russia, as we now know, tried posting false claims and slanders.

What differs with the Main Street WIRE trolls is size, not style or respect for community norms.

When one of them condemns, in one fell swoop, Frank Farance, Rick O'Conor and me, not for our opinions with which she disagrees, but because, according to the troll, we are "...impotent, old white men," it's not just ignorant and obscene, it's an insult to anyone with a shred of respect for our community.

Switch the color around a little and see if it passes the racist test.

Play with the gender a bit too. See how that works out.

This is racism as well as gender and age based bigotry, plain and simple. There was more I deleted, but this gives you a pretty clear picture of the trolls' point of view.

Why We Blame The Main Street WIRE

The fact that the trolls' primary purpose was to attack The Daily, the Roosevelt Islander blog and Frank Farance, in a twisted attempt to defend the WIRE, isn't enough in itself, nor is the fact that one of the most avid trolls appeared to be a member of the WIRE staff hiding behind a pseudonym.

What convicts the WIRE's editors is their complete failure to condemn the tactics being used in their behalf. And it's not as if they didn't have chances.

This mirrors the Trump campaign's refusal to reject trolls, working secretly from Russia, trying to sabotage Hillary Clinton - by any means necessary.

While the trolls' antics were rolling out, claims WIRE editor Kelly Turner, "Someone sent me a link to this discussion thread thinking I'd be amused."

Setting aside the fact that the first thing anyone caught with his or her hand in the cookie jar does is try to explain why they are innocently where they shouldn't be, in what regard do Turner's friends hold her that they'd expect her to be "amused" by racism and overt bigotry in support of her newspaper?

Hm... A telling admission, unintentional though it was.

Turner goes on to continue her exercise in personal exculpation, hewing to the high road, "I spend very little time in the 'discussion' threads for the blogs. I don't find them to be very constructive and most research in online discourse bears that out. The medium tends to lock people into their positions more firmly."

Gutless and pretentious, but fair enough.

Yet, she never has a bad word to say about the trolls filling up the conversation thread.

Although Turner claims to be on the page, excuse me - writing on the page, only because someone thought she'd be amused, she does extend herself to slander Frank Farance: "You have a longstanding feud with Mandana (PS/IS 217 Principal Beckman) and many of the other women on this Island, several of whom have sent you cease and desist letters over the years."

Turner's comment includes what she either knows of should know is a blatant lie. Farance has received a single letter, from an unlicensed attorney speaking for Lynne Strong-Shinozaki, the claims of which were thoroughly debunked.

"Briana and I are happy to stand behind our reporting," Turner concludes, but doesn't that wildly careless, slanderous  misuse of facts as well as her aligning with trolls sort of discourage trust?

Who trusts a "journalist" who misuses her authority to spread a lie like that?

Let's be clear here. The Main Street WIRE's editor not only condoned but freely participated in the racist troll attacks.

When the Main Street WIRE's Trolls Cross Another Line

While I can generally handle troll attacks - I've dealt with much smarter and effective practitioners - I find the next phase in their attacks worthy of retaliation.

It's easy, if annoyingly time consuming, to delete the posts of trolls, and if they don't stop once they're banned, I can always report them to put a halt to it.

And to make it simple, the WIRE's editors, once fully aware, could have stopped it simply by ordering their supporters to back off, a real opportunity for a stroll along they high road they chose to ignore.

But frustrated at being deleted, the Main Street WIRE trolls went too far.

They threatened to go after my advertisers, to punish The Daily for reporting they don't like.

Disregarding privacy rights, the trolls disparagingly mentioned advertisers, using the names of their managers. Curiously, that was only true when women were involved. For advertisers with male managers, the name of the business was good enough for them.

It's hard to see this as anything less than female against female shaming, a crude and raw form of sexist bullying.

Here too, I waited to see if anyone at the WIRE had enough integrity to condemn this activity. No surprise - the editors' standards are low enough that this failed hustle any of them to their keyboards.

Conclusion

As I told Dick Lutz when he tried to intimidate me with threats after I left the Main Street WIRE, people whose world is a house of cards shouldn't shake the table too much.

But they did it, anyway.

Now, we here at The Daily will, in an honest and ethical manner, return the favor. We don't need falsehoods, slander or racism to convince people who can make a difference that siding with the WIRE's overt support of racism and bigotry is not what they should be doing.

We have a sales job to do and fully intend to do it.

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